The UPTA facility joins the National University Rail (NuRail) Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), as the only two rail-focused UTCs in the country. The NuRail Center, a multi-university rail transportation and engineering research center led by UIUC was established in 2012.
UTPA is the lead institution for the center, with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and Texas A&M University being partners in the consortium. UTPA will receive $575,00 per year, Texas A&M will receive $475,000 per year and UNL will receive $425,000 per year.
"The railway vehicles and technologies of the future are going to need men and women who are prepared to plan, design and manage transportation systems for the 21st
Century," said Gregory Winfree, assistant secretary for research and technology, Office of the Secretary of Transportation. "This rail safety program is going to turn applied research into that equipment and system failures into tangible solutions that saves lives and minimizes economic losses,. That fact alone makes this transportation center a smart investment, but what makes it an outstanding investment is that this research is going to be carried on by men and women who are getting a great education while solving rail problems that threaten life and property."
The center's creation stemmed from research conducted at UTPA for Amsted Rail to test railway bearings and sensors and determine how to make them safer and more reliable.